Everywhere you look at Pleasant Corner, it’s Christmas. Wendt & Kühn angels and children surround the beaded Christmas tree from the Linden Laden, a new dachshund named Fritz is this year’s addition to my Sievers-Hahn nativity scene, a German wax Madonna and angels line the mantel, and two trees and a chandelier are loaded with ornaments that hold lots of memories. A hand-carved Schwibbogen from Dresden, Germany lights up the picture window. Tins of homemade German Christmas cookies are stashed in closets, gradually being shared with family and friends. And new batteries have made the Hallmark “Jolly in the John Snowman” from Roger and Tina especially talkative.
Driving home from work today, I remembered that something special was missing from our holiday display: my much-loved copy of Becky’s Christmas, by Tasha Tudor, that I received for Christmas in 1975. Now, it’s out where it belongs.
Every year, I re-read this story about how 10-year-old Becky and her New England family prepare for Christmas. Becky knits mittens for her brothers, weaves a rug for her parents, sews a pincushion for her sister, Kitty, and creates a personalized flannel hot-water-bottle cover for her grandmother. Becky and Kitty make a Danish Advent wreath; later, the family gathers together to decorate gingerbread cookies. I’ve always loved the parts where Becky sets up the crèche in the arch of her family’s brick oven, when the family opens the box from their cousins in Pennsylvania that’s filled with barley sugar toys, and when Becky and her brother make music by running their fingers around the green glass finger bowls after Christmas dinner. But the best moment is when Becky sees her present: a dollhouse that the whole family made for her.
That Christmas that Becky’s tale joined my library, I also received a Madame Alexander doll of Little Women’s Jo March (complete with a whole wardrobe of clothes for Jo that Grandma made), a yellow robe with red hearts and eyelet on the waist that Grandma also sewed for me, and a letter from Santa. Thanks to Nails’ big slide-scanning project, I have these photos to share.
I just pulled out another favorite Tasha Tudor book to read: The Dolls’ Christmas. Sethany and Nicey’s party at Pumpkin House, with invitations sent by Sparrow Post, is a subject for another time.